Continuum will be built into Windows 10 for Phones, turning your phone into a PC

During its Build 2015 keynote today, Microsoft announced that Continuum will be built into Windows 10 for phones, allowing users with "select premium phones" to connect their phone to a keyboard, mouse, and external screen for a desktop-like experience.

When users connect their phone to an external monitor via HDMI, along with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, they'll essentially be working from a desktop environment. The UI will adapt to fit the larger display, start-menu and all. As far as apps are concerned, it looks like this is where the universal model is going to pay off. During the demo, Microsoft showed off Office running from a phone on an external screen, and it looked very much like the PC app.

Overall, this looks like an amazing use of Continuum, showing off the universality of Windows 10 across devices. Given the right equipment, you're basically carrying a PC in your pocket at all times. It is important to note, however, that Continuum for phones will be limited to "select premium phones." So it's unlikely to come to low-end Lumia devices.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

312 Comments
  • YES. THIS. WANT NOW.
  • Holly S*it ...thats what I have been asking ... I even opened a ticket on user voice :D 
  • I've been asking for this for a few months... It's cool to see that MS is thinking like us....
    ........
    And, Joe wasn't lying back during Build 2014 when he said WP would be the most capable devices out their..
  • Any developers out there know if there is any way W10 for phones cam run ShowBox, or Bluestacks❓❓
  • Bluestacks is a win32 app ie .exe so it wont run on windows phone ...  unless they decide to make a universal app (not sure if its possible) we are still waiting for more details about sucky APIs
  • Right, right... What about Showbox❓How does that work on Android❓ I know you download it from a website.. Is it side loaded❓
  • looks like showbox is an app for android ... so thats how it runs ... developer of the apps should port it to run on WP thats the only way ... 
  • Well.... It's a possibility, but I don't think SB is even allowed in the Android store, less known than the Windows store... But, but, but,,,, MS says that in W10 we can developer unlock our phones, so that might be a workaround.
  • There were tears in my eyes. :-)  WP finally has something going for it besides the Live Tiles.
  • Speaking of live tiles... I'm kinda disappointed that there wasn't any big WP start screen features.. No customization revealed like "Mixed View, exploding tiles, of music controls on the start screen, and action center.....
    ..........
    Now, that the keynote is over when, and where would MS reveal such features❓ Is this it❓
  • Very very likely you won't be able to run Win32 programs, RT is alive in that form then!
  • Maybe not. See an earlier article about win32 software.
  • But think if they build a Lumia with a "Cherry Trail" Atom processor in it! I would buy that so fast. Friends would be like "ha ha, you don't have Snapchat" and I'd be all "yeah, but I can run full Photoshop CS6."
  • Keep dreaming
  • maybe you can compile or port win32 to windows store which can be downloaded across all devices and then the app in your phone seconds as the desktop app when you connect to the PC  
  • you will be able to port a win32 program to a windows 10 universal app which will then run on all devices.
  • Didn't think about it that way.  In a way it's like they realized that RT failed in the tablet space.  Most phones are ARM based.  It's a smart move to attack it from the other end!  Release "RT" for phones, get apps created, try tablets again!
  • Except rt was much more powerful api-wise
  • Unless we see an Atom powered Lumia...
    But I agree, I don't think that current gen SD chips are powerful enough to emulate x86 in real time while giving a good experience or killing the battery in mere minutes.
  • Actually its very likely. The next generation of hardware might be able to. Watch the video.... He explains that these features require future hardware that will ship with Windows 10. He mentions Qualicom's new hardware as a way to multitask two full screen apps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oi1B9fjVs4
  • Why not if Microsoft uses the new Intel atoms on there phones like there rumored to to be doing then they could use win 32 apps.
  • That's still a W10 for phones OS and it certanly does not support Win32 apps, just Universal apps. Think a little bit logically. :)
  • like i said with MS's new tools you are able to port your existing win32 app into a universal windows 10 app
  • Windows RT was fully compatible to Win32...it had all the libraries on-board. Of course you still had to recompile your Win32 apps for ARM.
  • YES YES YES! I've been saying this should be done since Miracast was added and people here told me it would never happen. To them I say: Told you so!
  • A HDMI cable is required.  L940/XL may have a micro-HDMI port.
  • Do current generation wp have mhl support to connect it directly to hdmi ports?
  • Actually, for me the killer screen would be HoloLens.  Think about it.  Phone, that small bluetooth foldable keyboard and a pair of glasses instead of a screen.  Talk about mobility and privacy.
  • I was wtf wtf wtf wtf!! that whole segment
     
  • I was thinking, please allow this directly on note-style large devices that include a built-in stylus.
  • So, basecially we get windows RT tablet funcationality on phone. I will take that  :)
  • Could be x64. Windows 10 runs on Intel and Intel has chipsets for phones!
  • Agreed. This looks sick. That flagship cannot come soon enough!!
  • Based on these capabilities, a flagship might have dual USB-C ports.  Allow charging on one while the other can run to a hub with monitor, keyboard hooked up.   Biometric lock, 20 MP camera, Dual usb ports, 5 inch screen, expandable memory. What more could I ask for?
  • Just need an universal dock where you can plug in phones with USB-C.
  • Sweet
  • Actually for me is killer function of this would be to have Holo Lens act as the monitor.  Pair the phone with the new foldable bluetooth keyboard and now you have real mobility. 
  • Don't get too hyped...
  • What a completely worthless comment.  At least say something to back that up, otherwise what's the point other than wasted bandwidth?
  • Don't get too hyped expecting a desktop view on our mobile phones
  • My pants are tight...
  • What I hope, really hope, that Microsoft does with Windows 10, is allow me to send and receive texts on my windows 10 computer that is not a phone.  Please, I would pay for that service.
  • I've been hoping for integration like this since the WP7 days. I think it'd be neat if there was a way to make the phone's UI show up in a window on one's PC and be fully interactive. Like if you're at work, and your phone is in your pocket or charging on your desk, and you could interact with it without even touching it, right from your PC.
  • Honestly, WP7 and 8 don't deserve to have the "Windows" name in them, since they never really had much to do with the actual Windows. It was pretty misleading.
  • I beg to differ. ;)
  • Same kernels as other versions of Windows, (subset of) the same API, etc. I'd say they have pretty much in common with regular Windows…
  • That's up to your phone company. And you know how they get.
  • Why does a phone carrier need to get involved with that ability? IOS does this on Macs automagically without carrier intervention.
  • Yes, but only inside their own ecosystem and to other iDevices. iMessage..
  • Isn't that what I said?
  • Maybe. But the initial post talked about texts, which i assume is SMS texts. You could of course argue that Windows could easily make their own "iMessage" That only worked on Windows 10 devices. But that is not the Microsoft way... :P We use Skype for that, or any other messaging app.
  • Yes, IOS can push an actual SMS to other apple devices. You're able to send from them as well. "But that is not the Microsoft way... :P" Damn shame isn't it? lol
  • Why can't it be done for SMS texts? I was doing that on my crappy Android back in 2008 via a 3rd-party app. Connected my phone to my PC and used my keyboard to compose and send text messages. Why can't Windows phones do this?
  • Was about to say, while I'm not intimately familiar with iOS, Android has had numerous apps combined with web services that allow you to send/receive SMS from a web browser on a laptop/PC, and other Android devices outside of your Android phone.   
  • Nokia Suite can do it with old Symbian Phones. Microsoft just need to ask to his own employees !
  • It's not automagic... They pretty much use the mac very cleverly as a Bluetooth headset/device. Very smart on their part. Carriers don't matter.
  • Wrong dram30! Any text that comes to the phone (not speaking just iMessage but an actual text) hits the apple servers then gets pushed to any IOS and Mac device that uses the same linked phone number/account that's connected to a wifi or cellular network. Bluetooth is not used. That's the automagic I speak of.
  • This I can agree on. But, does it work the other way also, sending texts? I am asking out of curiosity, i really don't know.
  • Absolutely EmolaT. You can make/receive calls on other Apple devices as well.  
  • Well if they can port websites into apps and Verizon has a web app that already lets you send and receive SMS from a browser then its just a port away
  • I believe Symbian did also.
  • Not if there was a way to, essentially, remote desktop to your phone.
  • Blackberry has had this for 6 months now with Blackberry Blend. It connects over Wifi or Mobile network and allows you to email, text, and BBM from your computer, along with see notifications, incoming calls, and transfer files back and forth. No carrier interference, no limited bluetooth range. It's amazing
  • What about getting a skype number?
  • That costs money and Skype doesn't do MMS. Why pay for something like this when the alternatives give you all that and more for free? Never mind it doesn't allow you to move the calls around the way iOS and OS X does. 
  • universal messaging app makes it possible. universal apps makes everything like that possible if they just want to do that
  • Does anyone remember "Pocket Controller" on Windows Mobile?? That was exactly it. Plug in, and your phone screen is in a window of its own. Launch apps, read SMS, etc. It was really neat. I really miss WinMo for several things and this is one example.
  • The point is to be able to leave your phone in the bedroom and still be able to take and receive calls and do Carrier based messaging from your Laptop or Tablet on the couch.  Having to plug stuff in defeats the purpose and only ups the clink factor bits why I couldn't care less about continuum. The people at Build have laptops. They probably didn't care either, Lol. 
  • I used to do that on my Symbian ;)
  • This would essentially be like iMessage and I would support that. It would really be useful. Plus, it'd be offered on iOS and Android too because MS does it like that. Not like stupid iMessage's walled garden... er jail.
  •   How does Microsoft plan to pull this off on iOS? I'm not sure if it's possible since nothing else accomplishes it and other developers would have jumped on it if so.  The only developer that has done it is Verizon with their Messages app, but it requires them to be able to archive and propagate the messages from their servers essentially turning SMS into an IM service. They have a Windows desktop and iPad (as well as Android) app available. But it doesn't work like iMessage.  Verizon is a carrier so people are less alarmed by them doing this. Not sure if they want a company like Microsoft storing their SMS. Apple doesn't do that. It relays it between machines via a wireless protocol so it never touches their servers unless it's an iMessage, which is something totally different and a lot more secure than Skype or any other consumer messaging product Microsoft has ever run. 
  • I wouldn't want to pay for that service. Blackberry has this feature already.
  • Be nice if this comes to my HTC one m8
  • Of course it will.
  • I have an M8, so I hope it does, but how can you be so sure?
  • Belfiore stated that for this new continuum for phones to work (Multiple screen), they need to use new hardware.. so, probably no.
  • Nope, it won't.  Joe was very clear that this requires new hardware.  Therefore, it will not come to existing devices.
  • That sucks. Hopefully they'll release a new 6" device so I'm able to get a new phone. No way I'm going back to any smaller size.
  • It's not as bad as you think. I'm def getting the next Phablet out there, but I broke my 1520 and I wasn't going to spend a bunch on a new one just to have a new one come out later this year. I ended up with an 830, not terrible other than the damn side buttons are so sensitive that I keep opening the camera and locking and unlocking the phone when I don't wanna.
  • I've broke my 1520 screen three times now...finally gave up and sold on ebay broke screen and all.  I'm on my old 920 waiting for next flagship and agree, it's not as bad as I thought going back to smaller.  Had you asked me a year ago I would had scoffed and laughed at you.  But at $200 per broked screen, the only one laughing is the Palco repair center...
  • Awesome
  • Take my money.. I want this now lol.. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • my Lumia 930 is ready!
  • Blifiore said "new hardware is necessary", so it probably isn't
  • Yeah, 'new hardware'. i.e. you'll have to buy one of the new flagships.
  • Your 930 will NEVER be ready!
  • Yeah, I heard that, but why so? I understand, they need new hardware for dual screen output support. But why not make it output just to the external screen on current generation, the current computing power is enough. I think we should wait the final release before coming to a definite conclusion. They clearly have many more surprises before RTM. Plus remember that they demoed the feature on a Nokia Lumia 920, so everything is possible.
  • I doubt it's a processor issue.  Maybe one issue would be when running the bluetooth devices and HDMI output to screen your battery will burn up in minutes and as such, may require a second connection, one for screen, one for battery.  Just a guess.
  • How do you connect your phone via hdmi? Is there a micro-sd to hdmi adapter
  • Your phone would have to support MHL over its MicroUSB interface.
  • I have a lumia 930. Does it really not support mhl?
  • Nice phone! No idea about MHL support, though. Adapters aren't expensive, and can be found on Amazon.
  • they said it requires new hardware, what they did was simulate it on stage. So, chances are, current hardware won't be able to do it. My 920 is ready to retire :)
  • No, he said we need new hardware because he was holding a tablet. He put the tablet down and picked up a phone. New hardware. Edit: Scratch what I just said
  • He later stated that new hardware was needed for the multi screen ability to work.
  • He actually used a 920 for the Continuum demo. I was for a moment every excited that this was enabled in my beloved device :)
  • Really? How did he connect it what do you think?
  • He connected it to a regular usb cable. However the other screens were simulated.
  • I believe it will use the new usb-C ports (probably the new phones will come with that port)
  • USB C
  • Walk it back, folks. They said 'new hardware required.' I suspect it'll the new USB-C port, as others have pointed out, that Apple is already using on the new Macbooks. I'm guessing when the flagship devices do come around, they'll have USB-C
  • Nokia 808 has HDMI out. Windows10 upgrade? Old/new flagship. Lol.
  • Now say that Windows Phone is dead and i will beat the crap out of you! :P Gonna take time and we will surpass others soon :D
  • Yeahhhhh! Talk to them ashkachum!
  • Yeah, now cry babies are hiding behind their moms
  • Windows phone is dead. Switching to the far superior iPhone. Have fun everybody cause windows is awful. /s
  • Oh good, the 13 year old left the room.  Bye!
  • Honestly, nothing is certain. While this is certainly reason enough for me to upgrade, it's still a pretty geeky thing, and not a reason for many others to upgrade.The Android/iOS -code announcements will mostly affect the European market where companies are already much more interested in WP thanks to a higher market share. 2016 will be quite interesting.
  • Well, at sub-3% market share.......it kind of *is* dead?
  • What about Mac OS vs Windows OS ? Does low market share of Mac OS make it dead?.. Grow up man
  • But that's when you do analytics and dig into the numbers. The 3% of Windows Phone users are in emerging markets using $50 devices...... vs. The percentage of >$1000 Macbook users and their purchasing power. It's all about the make up of your consumers, which is why OSX development is still vibrant; they have some of the most desirable consumers on the planet.
  • This.
  • I'd say that although 3%, you're still talking some, what 50 million customers?  Or more?  It would be stupid to just *give* away 50+ million customers just because you only boast 3% market share.  Percentage of market isn't important, profitability is.
  • Belfiore mentioned that it requires new hardware and what they did was simulate the experience on stage
     
  • No he copied a text from the phone and pasted it, unless that was simulation
  • That was simulation. The whole thing was scripted.
  • The new flagship Windows Phone!!!
  • He used a 920
  • Of course he did, he isn't going to give away the new flagship yet.  I highly doubt that was a standard 920.  Much like car companies create false outer shells when testing new cars so the magazine photogs don't see them and give them away before big announcements.
  • Flagship :)
  • Now this is what we've been waiting for for the last 6 years.
  • Between Continuum and the easy porting of iOS and Android apps, not sure why you would buy anything but a windows device now.   We were all worried about android apps, when really, MS just leveraged Windows traditional greatest strength, that it can work with anything. 
  • Yeah, that Microsoft
  • Developers still must port them though, so the battle isn't won yet  
  • Bingo.  We'll see how many developers actually go through the trouble to port their apps.
  • It's still essentially the same battle. Microsoft still has to go to the developers of every new hot mobile app that pops up month to month, and convince them to port their app to Windows.  
  • Not necessarily because its not enticing developers based on Windows phone sales alone. Its based on sales of Windows 10 devices Surfaces, XboxOne, laptops,desktops PC upgrades etc. There's a lot more of those users than Windows phone users alone.
  • If having your app on Hololens doesnt entice em...either they are brain dead or Steve Jobs.
  • People said the same thing about Google Glass. Holo Lens will never leave the house. IPhones, iPads, MacBooks leave the house all the damn time. 
  • What application is going to be used on a phone, xbox, and laptops/pcs, besides a game ? 
  • Because there is more to ecosystem than just apps. Unless iTunes Store is coming to Windows Phone I want nothing of it. I buy my eBooks at iBook Store now. I buy my Music there. I rent my movies there. I use iCloud PIM now and it syncs perfectly. I get my Podcasts from there.  Also it works flawlessly with a Mac and since my Windows laptop get little use (and I don't expect Windows 10 to really change that) there is no way I will cripple my eLife just to use some rush ports. 
  • "select premium phones"
  • Yes, and yet we don't expect this from an lg90
  • 1520, 930 and up. I hope!
  • He said new hardware is required.  Probably no phones currently on the market will support this, only future premium phones.
  • i just want to be able to attach a small external keyboard via bluetooth to my 1520... that would be enough for me... I don't need it to emulate a full pc.... just give me a bluetooth keyboard built into my leather phone case.... Then I can type everywhere without the soft keyboard taking up the screen... especially in landscape mode (where you hve about 4 lines visible when typing...) that's all I want... don't need to project my phone to an HDTV (although, I can do that... and hve with the Lumia app...over wifi)...
  • Well looks like I won't buy a Lumia 930 then since it's not supporting Continuum for phones :P
  • Anyone noticed the circle photos on the People tile? They are serious about it. aww
  • Anyone else notice the four rows of live tiles? That leak was real.
  • Ok 940, I will be patiently waiting for you, knowing I would be purchasing a mobile device that can function as PC.
  • 940 XL for me!  Can't wait!
  • Lumia 1041 please.
  • the next windows flagship phone will be powered by an atom x5 or x3 processor. there's no real reason not to go to an intel architecture for windows phone at this point.
  • Intel still hasn't solved the battery life issue for the most part.
  • and for the record, the video msft released specifically says they're working with qualcomm on a new processor for this.
  • Oh no, unless it's a special x86 qualcomm CPU, it's going to be Windows RT all over again :( Bring on the Intel x7 phone!
  • They also said it was coming after W10 launches. Possibly need an 820 Snapdragon?
  • So this is for flagship !
  • Nice!! I have been waiting for this for years!!
  • Lumia 940 (or maybe finally a Surface Phone?) with Iris scanner and Continuum, holy sh*t! Shut up and take my money, Microsoft!
  • +940XL :)
  • Great. When can I buy the 940XL?
  • I WANT IT NOW !!!
  • And just today I thought that for Windows phone flaships to be a killer like iPhone and Galaxy S are it needs to have a killer feature that those to won't....TA DAH "a kind of pc emulation!" SWEET STUFF!
  • Good work! I love Microsoft!
  • Why that People app tile is so ugly??
  • This looks so impressive.
  • Yes, round pics in a square tile. I hope it won't be like this in the finished OS
  • What I need to know is, what currently available phones support HDMI output?
  • None that I know of, but many support Miracast which I assume would also work for this purpose.
  • The Adreno 320 (used in the Lumia 930) supports HDMI output so perhaps it just needs software support. And if you take a close look at the phone used during the demo I think you will find that it is the Lumia 920.
  • None. I suspect their new phones/devices will use USB-C, thus their point of needing 'new hardware'.
  • Cherry trail Windows phone incoming
  • So if intel makes an atom chipset that is low power/energy enough to go into phones, we can have windows 10 on phone with x86, and when connected to external monitor you have full desktop like experience. This probably requires the phone to be charged and used simultaneously. This is very much possible, all we need is phone support in Windows 10 for x86 (which exits in some form already). While Intel atom chipset has two modes: phone (low frequency, with some services deactivated, for keeping the phone cool and longer battery life) and desktop mode (higher frequencies and full services). Intel already demonstrated a PC in a HDMI stick.
  • In other words, it won't be available to the majority of WP users...
  • Yes. But I don't think there will be any complaints. It's going to be another feature reserved for high end hardware just like quick charge 2.0
  • This!
  • Can't get everything for free. ;-)
  • They way i see it, neither will the majority of WP users need it. We have Miracast for that :) I see a future where every hotelroom has a docking station next to the TV (which can do more than just cha